What's reasonable compensation for web page copy writing?
May 31, 2010 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Some casual web writing I've been doing for my brother and his friend has suddenly ballooned into something resembling full-time work as requests from various Phoenix-area businesses to re-write their web-page copy have come pouring in. How much should I expect in compensation?

This work more or less found me -- rather than I it -- and it's out of my usual line, so I confess to being at sea in terms of what reasonable pay should be for my services.

Currently I work for 5 to 10 cents a word, depending on the client. But, given the fact that the jobs involve research, writing, as well as editing my own copy and making subsequent revisions at clients' request, this rate seems kind of low for the amount of time and effort I'm devoting to the task.

I don't want to come across as unrealistic or as a prima donna, so I'd like to know from you the best way to structure compensation demands for this sort of work. I don't have much experience in this area particularly, but I do have some commercial writing experience, having contributed to a college guide and even written literary guides for a major publisher.

Any insight, guidance, advice or recommendations you can make would be warmly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
posted by Ylajali to Work & Money (2 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've been doing website maintenance for more than 10 years, and although it isn't exactly what you're doing, it's close.

I charge by the hour. Since they're coming to you for work, you're sort of in the catbird seat, and you can probably get away with charging more than if the situation were reversed. I charge for my time picking an hourly rate I thought was reasonable, in increments of 10 minutes for good clients, and 15 minutes for less-than-favorite clients.

After a few months, you'll get a good idea of the amount of work a particular client, and if it looks like you'll be getting a lot of future work from the client, offer to make them a service package deal, where you provide X number of hours work every month, and give them a lower per-hour rate. Where you win in this situation is that they pay you no matter how little you do for them in a given month, but where you could lose is if the amount of work they send increases. You should include a clause in your contract to deal with renegotiation after a certain amount of time should either party feel the need. You should also include situations that fall outside of the standard service, such as rush work, or work required over the weekend, or whatever you think you can get away with.
posted by crunchland at 7:18 PM on May 31, 2010

I am a professional copywriter, and I charge $60-80/hour for straight-up web content (i.e. where I basically write what they tell me to, vs. doing a lot of content strategy/creative concepting/information design, where my rate would be more like $80-100).

I'm fairly experienced, though, and my clients are mostly pretty big, so your rate might be lower.

I've only ever heard of charging by the word for low-end content-mill type stuff. It's hard to imagine how that would work out well. Wouldn't you then have an incentive to pile on the verbiage? But for web copy, less is way more. I recommend charging by the hour instead.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:33 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

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